Thursday, March 3, 2016

Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami

These Japanese authors I've read so far,their novels have a unique way of narration..From Yasunari Kawabata to Kazuo Ishiguro,and now Haruki Murakami,every write-up has an undercurrent of a certain calmness and sadness..When you start reading these novels,initially nothing much appears exciting or soul stirring..In most of the plots,always the agitation stays in the background..And the foreground is beautifully trimmed by simple talks...I mean very simple..You never get to know when you are falling into a ravine all of a sudden because the calmness is surprisingly seasoned by intense emotions and Catch 22 situations..
Image courtesy Google
'Norwegian wood' is one such beautifully crafted story by Japanese author Haruki Murakami..This is the story of Toru Watanabe,our protagonist,studying in Tokyo..He stays in a dormitory in Tokyo with Nagasawa,an intense narcissist and friend of him..Toru spends most of his free time with his best buddies Naoko and Kizuki...This group of three was inseparable..Naoko and Kizuki share a very rare relationship..They are in love since their childhood..Toru narrates his experiences as a student and his simple life in dormitory..Everything goes well until the sudden suicide of Kizuki and also Kizuki's sudden demise takes a toll on Naoko's mental health..Then Toru tries to help her to overcome her sadness in asylum..Meanwhile he deeply fell in love with her and he keep visiting her frequently..Sometime it appears like he is taking advantage of her vulnerable condition but Toru feels  like Naoko is his responsibility after Kizuki's death...Reiko,the guitarist and Naoko's close companion in asylum become friends with Toru...Toru's assurances and support helps Naoko's recovery...But there comes Midori,a fellow student of Toru,and her entry in his life brings an unexpected turn in Toru's life..The remaining story is all about that clutch..

Coming to the characters Naoko and Midori looks like two opposite sides of a coin..Naoko is calm, soft and full of sadness where as Midori is crazy and full of life..Nagasawa is one more interesting character full of narcissistic ideas..Toru's life is a constant depiction of clash between morality and practicality..He has to choose between either sides..
There are few concepts which I don't like or I fail to understand but altogether it is a wonderful read..

Here are few interesting lines from the book..
Nagasawa. He was a far more voracious reader than me, but he made it a rule never to touch a book by any author who had not been dead at least 30 years."That's the only kind of book I can trust," he said. "It's not that I don't believe in contemporary literature," he added, "but I don't want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short..
Balzac, Dante, Joseph Conrad, Dickens," he answered without hesitation."Not exactly fashionable."       "That's why I read them. If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking..
Nagasawa is beyond liking or not liking. He doesn't try to be liked. In that sense, he's a very honest guy, stoic even. He doesn't try to fool anybody.
"I'm just an ordinary guy - ordinary family, ordinary education, ordinary face, ordinary exam results, ordinary thoughts in my head.""You're such a big Scott Fitzgerald fan... wasn't he the one who said you shouldn't trust anybody who calls himself an ordinary man? You lent me the book!" said Naoko with a mischievous smile.
"What makes us most normal," said Reiko, "is knowing that we're not normal.
I probably still haven't completely adapted to the world.' I said after giving it some thought. "I don't know, I feel like this isn't the real world. The people, the scene: they just don't seem real to me."
I don't know you well enough to force stuff on you.""You mean, if you knew me better, you'd force stuff on me like everyone else?""It's possible," I said. "That's how people live in the real world: forcing stuff on each other."
Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life."
What I learned from her death was this: no truth can cure the sadness we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness, can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see that sadness through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sadness that comes to us without warning.

1 comment:

LeoL said...

Thanks for sharing. One author who I couldn't get to yet.